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Saturday, March 11, 2017

Tech workers find communal living a solution for high rents

Fri Mar 10, 2017 | 2:35 PM EST ‹ 25/25 Zander Dejah, 25, a Virtual Reality engineer shows his friend Isha Padhye, 23, a UI designer a funny text exchange on his phone as they hang out at a bar in San Francisco, California, U.S. February 12, 2017. Reuters/Gabrielle Lurie 1/25 Zander Dejah, 25, a Virtual Reality engineer and Isha Padhye, 23, a UI designer toast as they socialise at a bar in San Francisco, California, U.S. February 12, 2017. Reuters/Gabrielle Lurie 2/25 Negev tech house is seen in San Francisco, California, U.S. January 29, 2017. Reuters/Gabrielle Lurie 3/25 Participants at a weekend Hackathon event chat while taking a food break, in San Francisco, California, U.S. July 16, 2016. Reuters/Gabrielle Lurie 4/25 Zander Dejah, 25, a Virtual Reality engineer who lives at the Negev tech house, walks into SF Pizza to get some food on the way home from a bar in San Francisco, California, U.S. February 12, 2017. Reuters/Gabrielle Lurie 5/25 Vish Arya, 26, who is an operations analyst watches clips of Saturday Night Live on his computer in his bedroom at the Negev tech house in San Francisco, California, U.S. January 29, 2017. Reuters/Gabrielle Lurie 6/25 Cory Brandi (L), 25, and Isha Padhye (right), 23, who is a UI engineer, check their phones as they rest together on large stuffed bear at The Negev tech house in San Francisco, California, U.S. February 4, 2017. Reuters/Gabrielle Lurie 7/25 Kumar Srikantappa (C), 31, a software architect for Oracle, chats with people in line for a Gatsby-themed party in San Francisco, California, U.S. January 28, 2017. Reuters/Gabrielle Lurie 8/25 Kumar Srikantappa (Centre R), 31, who is a software architect for Oracle, waits in line to get into a Gatsby-themed party in San Francisco, California, U.S. January 28, 2017. Reuters/Gabrielle Lurie 9/25 People work on their computers during a weekend Hackathon event in San Francisco, California, U.S. July 16, 2016. Reuters/Gabrielle Lurie 10/25 Vish Arya, 26, who is an operations analyst living at The Negev tech house, walks out of a corner store in San Francisco, California, U.S. January 29, 2017. Reuters/Gabrielle Lurie 11/25 Ivy Zheng (L), 26, a student and William Harris, 29, a software engineer who are both residents of The Negev tech house relax during a Sunday ''family'' dinner in San Francisco, California, U.S. October 30, 2016. 12/25 Aash Anand (L-R), 26, a software engineer, Zander Dejah, 25, a Virtual Reality engineer and Isha Padhye, 23, who is a UI designer, take a cigarette break outside the Negev tech house in San Francisco, California, U.S. February 4, 2017. Reuters/Gabrielle Lurie 13/25 Andrew Bresee, 26, a software engineer and resident at The Negev tech house hangs from a gymnastic ring while making a phone call before joining a Sunday ''family'' dinner in San Francisco, California, U.S. October 30, 2016. Residents at the house cook and eat food together once a week. Reuters/Gabrielle Laurie 14/25 Zander Dejah, 25, a Virtual Reality engineer gets dressed in his room in San Francisco, California, U.S. February 4, 2017. Reuters/Gabrielle Lurie 15/25 Zander Dejah (2nd L), 25, who works as a Virtual Reality engineer, Nick Olszowy (C), 25, a software engineer and Andrew Bresee, 26, a software engineer, all who are residents of The Negev tech house, use their electronics during a Sunday ''family'' dinner in San Francisco, California, U.S. October 30, 2016 16/25 Isha Padhye, 23, a UI designer and Zander Dejah, 25, a Virtual Reality engineer, walk home from a night out in San Francisco, California, U.S. February 12, 2017. Reuters/Gabrielle Lurie 17/25 Mehmet Efe Akengin, Hassan Kane and Surya Bhupatiraju (L-R) work late into the night on computers during a weekend Hackathon event, in San Francisco, California, U.S. July 17, 2016. Reuters/Gabrielle Lurie 18/25 A participant sleeps under a desk during a weekend Hackathon event, in San Francisco, California, U.S. July 17, 2016. Reuters/Gabrielle Lurie 19/25 Zander Dejah, 25, a Virtual Reality engineer and Isha Padhye, 23, a UI designer, who both live at the Negev tech house walk home from a night out in San Francisco, California, U.S. February 12, 2017. Reuters/Gabrielle Lurie 20/25 A participant sleeps on a couch during a weekend Hackathon event in San Francisco, California, U.S. July 16, 2016. Reuters/Gabrielle Lurie 21/25 Boxed food and canned drinks sit on a table during a weekend Hackathon event, in San Francisco, California, U.S. July 16, 2016. Reuters/Gabrielle Lurie 22/25 People work on their computers during a weekend Hackathon event in San Francisco, California, U.S. July 16, 2016. Reuters/Gabrielle Lurie 23/25 A man works at his computer during a weekend Hackathon event in San Francisco, California, U.S. July 16, 2016. Reuters/Gabrielle Lurie 24/25 Isha Padhye (L), 23, a UI designer and Zander Dejah, 25, a Virtual Reality engineer who both live at The Negev tech house pose for a photo at a bar in San Francisco, California, U.S. February 12, 2017. Reuters/Gabrielle Lurie 25/25 Zander Dejah, 25, a Virtual Reality engineer shows his friend Isha Padhye, 23, a UI designer a funny text exchange on his phone as they hang out at a bar in San Francisco, California, U.S. February 12, 2017. Reuters/Gabrielle Lurie 1/25 Zander Dejah, 25, a Virtual Reality engineer and Isha Padhye, 23, a UI designer toast as they socialise at a bar in San Francisco, California, U.S. February 12, 2017. Reuters/Gabrielle Lurie › Tech workers find communal living a solution for... By Gabrielle Lurie and Melissa Fares | SAN FRANCISCO Zander Dejah, 25, pays $1,900 a month rent to live in a downtown San Francisco house with at least 40 other people, many of whom sleep in bunk beds. Dejah is a resident of The Negev, a communal living space that styles itself as a home for millennial tech workers to brainstorm ideas, write code and create apps, even if they have to share toilets and bathrooms with dozens of others. Houses like The Negev, located in a neighborhood known as "SoMa" or South of Market, have cropped up around San Francisco as an influx of young professionals, many of whom are tech workers, have faced the city's notoriously high rents and apartment shortages. It has three floors and roughly 50 rooms, filled with bunk beds, beer bottles and laptops, according to residents. Dejah, born and raised in New York, graduated last year with a degree in computer science and math from McGill University. Unemployed, he moved to California six months ago and found his room at The Negev on Craigslist. "I thought New York was expensive," said Dejah, who quickly landed a job as a virtual reality engineer at consulting firm moBack. "It's basically an extension of college. We sort of live in a frat house." The home is certainly filled with parties on weekends, but the residents make sure to sit down every Sunday for a communal dinner, akin to a traditional family gathering. While some say communal housing provides a solution for many first-time workers fresh out of college, such housing also has created its share of controversy. Housing advocates have complained that this new dorm-like style of living has pushed up rents and forced longtime residents to move out. Alon Gutman, who co-founded a company called The Negev and began leasing the building on Sixth street in 2014, said, "We have never made somebody move out of that building," adding that his tenants pay 30 percent to 50 percent less than others in the neighborhood. "We are trying to solve the housing crisis and increase density in a positive way." The Negev company runs nine communal properties, three of which are in San Francisco. The others are in Austin, Texas, and Oakland, California. The Negev properties, generally in run-down, low-income neighborhoods, are restructured to accommodate a large number of tenants, Gutman explained. Sarah Sherburn-Zimmer, executive director of the Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco, said housing problems have arisen because occupants leave buildings being converted to communal homes and cannot afford to move back in or the space is no longer suitable for them. "The Negev house takes affordable housing and makes it unaffordable," said Sherburn-Zimmer. "All they've done is take away housing from people who had it and loved it and pushed them out to make a quick buck." Kumar Srikantappa, 31, who also pays $1,900 a month for a single room at The Negev, said he chose the house because of the social experience. After eight months there, the software engineer for Oracle Corp said he would soon be ready to live elsewhere. "I met a bunch of friends, and I just want to move on to another location and into a bigger place," he said. "It's time." Click on reut.rs/2njat9I to see a related photo essay (Reporting by Gabrielle Lurie in San Francisco; Additional reporting and writing by Melissa Fares in New York; Editing by Diane Craft)

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